SEC Football Spring Power Rankings
SEC Spring Power Rankings
Everything is falling into place nicely as the final week of August is one week closer. But what do these rites of spring really tell us about these teams? If you’re a fan of the Florida Gators are you concerned that you couldn’t field two teams? If you are a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide are you already booking your tickets to the BCS Title Game? If your a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats are you already looking forward to basketball season?
The prep and practice of spring is usually more about what the coaches see in the dedication and work ethic of the group they will count on in the fall. It’s not so much about how great the entertainment value of the game-ready product for the dog and pony show for the fans no matter what the coaches may say or the booster club may promote. It’s about highlighting your strengths, hiding your weaknesses and about the coaches figuring out who they need to coach up to fill the gaps in less than four months.
But despite the seriousness in the mind of the coaches, you still get the folly.
This guy could have told you two months ago that Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t going to see a live snap for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the spring game. But somehow, someway Clowney found a way to enter the field of play and made a terrible catch in street clothes. Obviously, that bad back was more of a big deal than they let on prior to the game. Who else thinks Steve Spurrier had no idea Clowney was going to pull that stunt?
And then you have Johnny Manziel who looked like Johnny Football on the field only to return to Johnny Heartbreaker on Twitter later that night.
So, with that great visual analysis, this guy is ready to go out on the limb and tell you exactly where your team sits and why, heading into the blackout of the all access from the past month. Buckle up, disagree if you want and take a look at the 2013 SEC Football Spring Power Rankings.
No. 14 - Kentucky Wildcats
If you are outside Lexington, bets are you cannot name one person on this roster. Even if you watched any of the games last year, one would be hard pressed to remember anyone from 2012 that can help in 2013.
Therein lies the problem with the Kentucky Wildcats this fall, new coach or not.
As you look up and down the roster, they have a lot of Single A and Double A High School talent from Georgia who are not yet capable of handling the week end and week out grind of the SEC.
No. 13 - Missouri Tigers
It’s even more of a mystery why the Tigers chose to join the SEC knowing what was in store for them as the designated punching bag for the rest of the conference from now until the end of time.
Missouri from a personnel and a leadership standpoint is clearly not ready to compete at the highest level of College Football.
No. 12 - Mississippi State Bulldogs
Has the Dan Mullen experiment ran its course with the Mississippi State Bulldogs? A lot of boosters and fans will be saying yes to this question in 2013.
With the recruiting class the Bulldogs rival had over in Oxford, the margin for error is getting thinner and thinner for Mullen. Mississippi State will have a competitive team, but will have a big problem winning the close ones.
Mullen better find some of his old magic fast because right now this is just not a team to be excited about at all.
No. 11 - Tennessee Volunteers
First year head coach Butch Jones has a lot to implement for the Tennessee Volunteers and those growing pains will be evident in 2013.
New quarterback, new receivers, new linemen, new defensive players and new coaches usually leads to a surprise win or two and a lot of bad losses.
And with talent in the SEC the reality of the job ahead of Jones in rebuilding the Vols will be terrifyingly apparent by the middle of September.
No. 10 - Vanderbilt Commodores
Have the Vanderbilt Commodores peaked?
No. James Franklin is too good of a coach and has something figured out when it comes to winning in Nashville. They have sneaky talent.
But will the Commodores take a step back in 2013? Yes. A slight step back. Maybe not even a big enough one to notice, but still a step back.
No. 9 - Auburn Tigers
That’s right folks. The team that went 0-8 in the SEC last season has nowhere to go but up in 2013.
And the biggest reason why the Tigers will improve is in the game plan of Gus Malzahn. Those players who looked like they had never seen a football in 2012 were recruited to run Malzahn’s offense and were trying to do things apart from their skill-sets. Plus, they obviously quit on Gene Chizik.
Look for the pride to return to Auburn and for the Tigers to put together one of the better offenses in the conference in 2013, but will still struggle to crack the upper crust of the SEC.
No. 8 - Arkansas Razorbacks
Another team who is ready to surprise folks in 2013 will be the Arkansas Razorbacks. Nowhere to go but up again here in this case ladies and gentlemen.
Bret Bielema has quickly changed the tone in Fayetteville and has a solid group of athletes who will challenge any team in the SEC.
This is going to be a team that punches you in the mouth on both sides of the ball and will keep games close. Their depth will be their biggest issue but this will be a bowl team in 2013.
No. 7 - LSU Tigers
There are a lot of unanswered questions for the LSU Tigers at this point. The biggest one centers around the offense and can Cam Cameron find a way to make LSU a team the SEC fears from scoring rather than its defense.
There is no doubt LSU has the athletes ready to fill the gaps in a defense that is basically replacing everyone. But the Tigers are not going to be able to pin their ears back in 2013 and play field possession. They are going to have to score and right now this guy doesn’t see the talent to outscore the other teams in the SEC.
Don’t be surprised if LSU is a 6-6 team.
No. 6 - Florida Gators
Another team who is a mystery right now is the Florida Gators. Their spring game gave us nothing. And you know that it's something that is haunting Will Muschamp.
Everyone knows the Gators are going to be great at running the ball, but no one in the SEC is going to be terrified of Florida’s ability to run the ball. Even as it stands right now, no one is really afraid of any Gator on defense either. When was the last time anyone can remember that being said about a Florida team?
Maybe Muschamp is playing us for a fool and, if he is, everyone should be scared. But coaches like Muschamp usually don’t hide their ability to brag about its strengths at this point in the spring especially to its fans.
Another SEC power that might be 6-6 in 2013.
No. 5 - Ole Miss Rebels
How amazing is the Hotty Toddy Kool-Aid being served by head coach Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels in the past six months.
A surprising 2012 season, a bowl win and the best recruiting class in 2013 have created a buzz never before seen in Oxford. But the question is can Ole Miss survive the pressure of this greatness? It is a whole lot easier to jump up and win when no one has any expectations. But at this point in the game, the Rebels are being considered better in the conference than some of the perennial powers. And that creates a whole new set of problems.
At the end of the day, though, Ole Miss has the talent, the depth and the coaching to believe they are equal to the biggest of the big boys in the SEC.
No. 4 - South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier finally has a favorable schedule, has a pair of stud quarterbacks, skilled role players, athletic depth and a guy on defense named Jadeveon Clowney.
If there was ever a year for South Carolina to win the SEC and play in the BCS Title Game, 2013 might be the year.
No. 3 - Texas A&M Aggies
The entire 2013 season for the Texas A&M Aggies are going to come down to a pair of critical items.
One, can Johnny Manziel focus enough and have the drive to be better and take this program to the next level?
Two, what team will show up on Sept. 14?
The Aggies have the talent and the momentum to win the SEC and the BCS Title Game. But can they handle the spotlight associated with their greatness? So far Manziel hasn’t proven he is the mature leader he needs to be off the field. But until the first game is played no one will know what impact he will have on the field. And at the end of the day that is all that matters.
No. 2 - Georgia Bulldogs
Without a doubt, the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs are one of the best teams ever to be assembled in Athens. Any other year, this is a Bulldog team that could run the table and beat just about any team from any decade.
But when you look at Georgia’s schedule, one has to doubt their ability to finish the drill. And not to say the Dawgs are going to choke, but more to say if they can pull off winning the SEC they will have completed a task second to no other team in the conference in the BCS era.
This Georgia team is a mirror image of the Alabama Crimson Tide. In fact, if it not for its schedule, anyone could argue that it is better.
But greatness is only evaluated in terms of wins, losses and championships.
No. 1 - Alabama Crimson Tide
Nick Saban has already circled Sept. 14 as the defining point for the 2013 team. But he better not overlook the opener against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
It’s just hard to believe that the Tide with its talent returning will not end up hoisting another National Championship in the final year of the BCS. Just simply a machine in what is the elite conference in all of College Football.-------------------------
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.